We all know that mobile commerce is poised to explode in the next few years. While its adoption has seemed slow when compared to the volume of commerce already taking place on desktop PCs, it’s only a matter of time before mobile devices are the preferred vehicle for online shopping.

Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group forecast that within fi ve years half of today’s smartphone users will be using mobile wallets as their preferred payments method, while Forrester Research estimate that total US mobile commerce will reach $45 billion by 2017, more than 4x higher than today.

Depending on how you look at it, mobile will either be a huge boon or a colossal bust for the affi liate channel. Success will be determined by the foundations that advertisers put in place now, which include working closely with publishers and ensuring their affiliate networks are properly tracking
and crediting mobile conversions.

To help you make the most of upcoming mobile opportunities, here are five important components of a successful strategy when it comes to m-commerce and the affiliate channel:

1. Affiliate tracking capabilities.
The nuances of the most popular mobile platforms, with their constantly changing features and functionality, require that the affiliate network conduct regular and rigorous testing. Without this mechanism in place, you run the risk of alienating your publishers through technical oversights that don’t credit them for driving traffic and sales.

2. A clear understanding of the path to purchase.
With so many ways for consumers to shop and on so many devices, it can be easy for the path to purchase to become confusing. From the shopper’s perspective, this non-linear path represents freedom and flexibility. Yet from the advertiser’s point of view it can be challenging, especially when it comes to understanding where the shopper is in the purchasing life-cycle. Advertisers that work closely with publishers to understand this new, non-linear path will be able to increase conversion rates by presenting the right offers at the right time on the right device.

3. Rich Data Feeds.
While your site may appear to be optimized for mobile, it’s wise to take a closer look at your data feeds as there may be inadvertent errors that are turning off your customers. Four of the most common oversights are:

  • Characters or symbols that are inadvertently inserted in place of text.
  • Images that are too small or low resolution.
  • Lack of compelling and descriptive product descriptions.
  • No UPC code which is required for many mobile commerce applications.

4. Mobile site or optimized desktop site?
While a mobile site is an extension of your brand, be sure that it’s not simply a tweaked version of your website that only provides a half-baked mobile experience. If you’re looking to drive traffic and conversions through mobile, you need to fully m-enable your site.

For example, if your customers find your mobile site takes too long to download or is difficult to navigate, they may never return. In fact, 57 percent of consumers will not recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site. Similarly, 40 percent of consumers will go to a competitor’s site after a bad
mobile experience.

5. Create an smooth, uninterrupted consumer experience.
The three elements that must be firmly in place to ensure customers return through a mobile device are simple navigation, easy and secure sign in, and fast checkout. If there are any hiccups along the way, the consumer will make their purchase elsewhere. Be sure to test the end-to-end experience from the publisher site to the advertiser site to check-out.

It’s clear that mobile commerce is a top priority for advertisers yet many are still hesitant to invest heavily as this nascent market continues to undergo many changes. There are lessons to be learned and best practices that have yet to be established.

However, waiting too long to institute a mobile affiliate marketing strategy will put advertisers at a disadvantage. By working with publishers and affiliate networks now, advertisers will be able to make signifi cant gains when mobile commerce reaches mass adoption and at the same time leverage the innovation and experience of their publisher partners.